tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC October 15, 2012 4:00pm-5:00pm PDT
spontaneous. it really was a low blow. >> first of all, mr. wilson, it didn't take some of us three day. i said as soon as the debate was over that mitt romney was lying. but more importantly, if the republicans and the right wing has to bring you out, who disrespected the joint sessions of congress and the president, it says more about them than those that question the candidate for president. thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right now. d-day minus one. let's play "hardball." ♪ good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. let me start with this. this campaign today for president floats on a knife edge. the balance between americans
who say yes to the achievements of president obama and those backing romney is that fine, that delicate. recent polling shows the difference in popular backing for what obama has done, the saving of the auto industry, the rescue of the u.s. economy itself, the killing of bin laden, health care for working americans, against what romney is offering is roughly zero. as i said, it's that close. so tonight we look at how obama can regain the lead. is it with a populist message, a challenge to romney's politics, of, by, and for the wealthy? is it a step by step dismembering of romney's tax plan? or a tough, positive declaration of what he has managed to do by president? whatever strategy the president chooses, wherever he places the sharp focus of his message, his time, his energy, his money, it's time for the man in the white house to buy his ticket and take his chances. he's got three weeks to make it work. joining me is new york magazine's john heilemann who has a big article in this week's edition and former pennsylvania governor ed rendell. first, two new national polls. the new "washington post"/abc news poll has president obama leading mitt romney by three points.
that's three points among likely voters, 49% to 46%. in that same poll taken two weeks ago, before the first debate, the president led by just two. he's picked up a point. and the new politico/george washington university battleground poll shows the president with a one-point lead. the same poll taken before the debate had the president with a two-point lead. you see how it's dancing around that knife edge. anyway, both campaigns, both the president's and romney's, are into the closing argument phase of the race, and both sides are putting out new ads today. first, this ad from the obama campaign. i think it's the best they've ever done, the finest ad i have seen in this campaign so far, and it's positive, thank god. it's narrated by the great morgan freeman, the spencer tracy of our time. let's listen. >> every president inherits challenges.
few have faced so many. four years later our enemies have been brought to justice. our heroes are coming home. assembly lines are humming again. there are still challenges to meet, children to educate, a middle class to rebuild, but the last thing we should do is turn back now. >> that's it. i think that's the magic message, and it's very positive. the romney campaign's closing argument advertisement is all about the economy as well. even uses the poll-tested words "wrong direction." let's listen to the republican ad. >> we can't keep spending and borrowing like this. we can't keep spending money we
don't have. did they come in and inherent a tough situation? absolutely, but we're going in the wrong direction. look at where we are. the economy is barely limping along. don't raise taxes on small businesses because they are our job creators. leaders run to problems to fix problems. mitt romney is uniquely qualified to fix these problems. >> well, let me go to governor rendell. and you saw two different tones there. i think the majestic sounds of the voice of morgan freeman against kind of a snippy ad there, maybe a good one, but it was snippy. your thoughts? >> yeah. i think voters at this point are looking for something to be positive about and something to believe in a little bit, and i thought the morgan freeman ad had a majestic quality about it and, you know, you can quarrel with the message, but it was an upbeat ad and talked about things this president has done. i have been a critic of his at times, but, boy, no one inherited worse problems not of his own making than he did, and he's made them better, no ifs, and, and buts about it. that ad captures that in a pleasant, appealing way. the other ad is sort of whiny and snippy. i'm not sure -- i don't think i would have hired that guy to deliver the message.
he has a whiny, snippy voice. i thought obama clearly wins that battle. >> are you with us on this, john heilemann? do you think the high road works now? we're calling it the closing arguments. does he go with dismembering romney's tax plan? does it mean going after romney's elitism, government by, for, and of the rich? or going at him basically reminding you can complain a bit about what's going on, but look where i started, look what i have done? >> these are kind of premonitions of closing arguments. the president's ad is getting closer to what they want on the positive side to be the closing argument. i don't think we've seen the last of negative campaigning from the obama campaign and the last of contrast or the last of attacks on governor romney along the lines you were just suggesting.
the romney ad is even further away from a closing argument in the sense that i think it's a typical or characteristic of them. it's a very tactical ad in the sense it's kind of trying to play on just on the joe biden performance. that ad only works because of biden's facial expressions. if you just had paul ryan saying what he's saying without the counter position to biden, there's really nothing there. i think they will shift to broader, bigger themes, but you can see the kernels in both of these of what they would be saying. president obama saying we've come too far to turn back, and governor romney saying it's not good enough. you'd be foolish not to change course. those are the nutshells of the arguments. they have been building up for the last six to nine months. over the course of the next few weeks, we will be hearing those in much clearer and starker terms than we've heard before. >> you know, a lot of elections turn on the very immediate conditions and how things are developing. i think right now things are starting to look a bit brighter than they were a couple months
ago in terms of -- let's look at this one. this is a good poll, "the washington post"/abc poll. it looks at right direction, wrong direction. if you look at the graphic up here, the trend lines are closing to the president's favor. more people still say the country is in the wrong direction, but by a 14-point margin, but the trend is unquestionably improving, with optimism rising steadily over the past year. "the washington post"/abc analysis pounds out in the final stretch those becoming more optimistic about the direction of the country are democrats. no surprise there. there's been cruel fates before. i remember the first president bush was knocked out by bill clinton just at the time that the economy was picking up. remember the fourth quarter of '92, and then, of course, al gore got hurt because the economy just went down just at the very end of the clinton terms. but this time around it looks like it is getting a shade better as we go to vote, but
maybe not a shade enough. what do you think? is it enough an upturn out there to do a little bit of bragging on? >> all the indicia are good, housing starts are up, the stock market is doing great, consumer confidence is up, freight shipments up. you name it, and all of the things are moving in the right direction. so i think that it is going to be enough, and i think where it's going to really resonate, chris, is with the democratic base. one of the things that i am impressed about, and i don't know if anybody is as impressed as i am, is the early voting returns. the early voting returns in ohio, for example, are 76% to 24% with 19% of all registered voters having voted. that's extraordinary. what it means is the democratic base, african-americans, that's the only way you produce those type of numbers, are coming out in force. they are ticked off about these attempts at voter suppression, ticked off about the attacks against the president, and they're coming out. and if they're coming out at that level, and these early voting returns across the country seem to indicate that, that i think is the main reason for optimism for democrats. the enthusiasm gap is either leveled off or has totally diminished or we now have an advantage. >> let's look at the latest
polling from ohio. i'm glad you raised that. this is the ppp poll. pardon me? let me talk about the numbers here. we got obama up 51%/46%, john, and the latest rasmussen, which usually tends republican, even that gives it to obama by one. >> i think, first of all, republican enthusiasm is up also because they're excited about the way governor romney performed in the debate. there is tightening across the battleground states. this is not a moment for unalloyed optimism for democrats. in addition to the right track number that you cited, there's also the fact that president obama's approval rating in that poll is now at 51%. the president has struggled for most of his term to get over 50% in terms of an approval rating. incumbent president's approval rating will be his vote share. if he starts getting over 50%
with any regularity, if this is a harbinger of where the polls are headed, this is a good sign for president obama. the ppp poll is another in a string of incredibly encouraging pieces of micronews for the democratic side. it's almost impossible for governor romney to win the election without winning ohio. the president's lead has been five, six, seven, eight points. it's tightening like it is everywhere else. still, five points is a pretty good, solid lead in a republican leaning state that, as i said before, governor romney has to have. the obama people for reasons of the ground game, for early voting as governor rendell suggested, because of the power of the labor unions, because of the strength of the recovery there, and the role of the auto bailout in ohio, they feel like they're going to be able to hold that lead there. if they do, they're probably going to be able to win the election. >> we always say -- the experts always say, like yourself, john, that the republicans need to win
ohio. i think that ohio always goes to the winner. the last time it didn't go with the winner was the kennedy race, and kennedy used to have the biggest crowds in the world in ohio. he used to say even kidding nixon, how come i got the crowds and you got the votes? do the democrats need to win ohio? or just the republicans? how does it work? >> i think governor romney has a much narrower path to get to 270 electoral votes because of some of his demographic weaknesses, especially in hispanic states. governor romney sort of needs to win. it's possible to imagine him winning without winning either one of florida, ohio, or virginia, but he more or less has to win all three. >> let's take a look, here is the fox news channel. very impressive interview, chris wallace who does a dandy job taking on ed gillespie. gillespie was trying to sell the case, he's been doing this before, that six studies, he calls them independent studies, are out there supporting the mathematical logic of the romney tax plan which means we can cut $5 trillion in tax rate reductions and we can make up for it with an equal closing of loopholes or deductions and won't tell you how and keeps
saying it's doable and keeps saying that's because we have experts that are doable. watch chris wallace take apart that argument put forth here by ed gillespie. let's listen. >> six different studies have said this -- >> those studies are very questionable. some of them are blogs, some are from the aei, which is hardly an independent group. >> these are very credible sources and -- >> one of them is from a guy who is -- a blog from a guy who was a top adviser to george w. bush. these are hardly nonpartisan studies. >> do you like that? governor rendell, you didn't see the face of ed gillespie, it just fell because finally one of the people just nailed him on this bs about these six independent studies. they're bloggers and the american enterprise institute, the most neocon organization on the planet. your thoughts. >> remember, it's not even $5 trillion in deductions have to
take away, it's the $2 trillion in additional defense spending that they have to balance off, and there aren't $7 trillion worth of deductions even if you swept away mortgage interest and everything else. it just doesn't add up. >> i think you're picking a point, governor. just kidding. it's so obvious. we only have a moment, but i know the late arlen specter just died this weekend. he was such a big part of my life, your life, but you were a close friend of arlen's. tell me about him as a guy. >> well, an incredible person. first of all, perhaps the last independent moderate in the republican party. he's gone, and he left behind a great legacy of service to pennsylvania, chris, but an amazing guy. he was so tenacious and had such strong will about everything he did, that we all believed -- he beat cancer twice. we all believed he was going to beat it a third time. we were wrong this time, but arlen specter's will and his tenacity and his political courage served pennsylvania and the nation incredibly well. >> and apart from you, i don't think anyone knew the commonwealth better than arlen did.
he was a student of our state. he knew it cold. thank you for that and a great honor to have known him and i know for you to have served with him and been his friend. john heilemann, thank you. governor rendell, thank you. coming up, the ali/frazier number two. president obama has a chance to undo some of that damage he suffered. enough of that. let's talk about the future. democrats say we're going to see a different obama at hofstra university this tuesday, tomorrow night. my take, he's going to cheer the troops. also, which -- who is he fighting, the right wing ideologue or moderate mitt, multitask mitt, multibeliefs mitt. lately moderate mitt talks to the cameras and his deputies whisper to the press later, he didn't really mean it. democrats assumed the north dakota senate seat was a goner. now democrat heidi heitkamp has turned certain defeat into a toss-up. she could win, and she joins us here tonight. finally, you knew this was coming.
>> a bunch of malarkey. >> yeah. >> what does that mean? >> it's irish. >> no, no, no. irish is i come over there and smack that dumb look off your face. >> "snl" takes on the vice presidential debate in the "sideshow," that and a preview of a helium filled debate between myself and bill o'reilly. this is "hardball," the place for politics.
we've got some new poll numbers in some key battleground states. first in florida, a new ppp poll shows a tight race down there with mitt romney leading obama by one. that's numbers are so close, 49%, 48%. in north carolina ppp has romney up two, 49%, 47%. in pennsylvania president obama's lead is down to four points. obama, 49%, romney, 45%. in ohio, president obama's firewall seems to be holding
there. the new ppp poll there has obama up by five, 51%, 46%. in new mexico a new "albuquerque journal" poll has the president up ten. boy, these states are different, 39%, 39%. ten points there. former new mexico governor gary johnson running as a libertarian. he's probably hurting the republican side. look at this number from arizona, new rocky mountain brc poll has the president leading by two, 44% to 42%. that's arizona. we'll be right back. centrum® silver in every bottle you get the number one doctor and pharmacist recommended, most complete multivitamin backed by thirty years of science. try centrum® silver. visit centrum-dot-com for your three dollar coupon. olaf's pizza palace gets the most rewards of any small business credit card! pizza!!!!! [ garth ] olaf's small business earns 2% cash back on every purchase, every day!
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welcome back to "hardball." ahead of tomorrow's big showdown on long island, both president obama and mitt romney have been deep in debate prep today. according to politico, romney's camp is apparently so confident with the candidate's answers their focus has been on stylistic matters such as reminding him to lean into the questioners as if he's in a one-on-one conversation. according to the "new york
times," the president is practicing how to challenge romney without seeming rude. the president's advisers said we should expect to see a different debater than the one that showed up two weeks ago in denver. >> he also knew as he watched the tape he's got to be more energetic. i think you will see somebody who is very passionate about the choice that our country faces and putting that choice in front of voters. >> i think he's going to make some adjustments on tuesday, and, you know, i'm not going to get into detail about strategic changes that he might make. i think he's going to be aggressive in making the case for his view of where we should go as a country. >> well, the format of the debate is a town hall. people in the audience get to ask questions. that means new challenges for the president. as one democratic source told politico, quote, you have to take on this guy and challenge him, but you can't seem like a bully in front of an audience. can he do it? david corn is washington bureau chief for mother jones and the
author of "47 percent," and david maraniss is a great author, the author of "barack obama, the story." david, we have to start with you, david maraniss, barack obama, is he capable of a two-fisted assault in public on an opponent? i have never seen him go at somebody aggressively. is that something he has in his tool kit or not? >> well, he has to have it in his tool kit tomorrow, but i think that actually the town hall format will help in that regard because it will allow him to come at romney from an angle, from the side. he can be very polite and civil and warm and ingratiating with the person asking the question and then go at romney, and that allows -- it makes it a little easier for someone like president obama who is inherently a little bit reluctant to confront and has a tendency to act too much like a constitutional law professor. i think this format will actually serve to his advantage. >> david corn, respond to that. if obama says i agree with you, i have done the following, i put -- i brought the auto industry back and some people disagreed with me, they thought we should let it go bankrupt, is that how you do it?
inherently a little bit reluctant to confront and has a tendency to act too much like a constitutional law professor. i think this format will actually serve to his advantage. >> david corn, respond to that. if obama says i agree with you, i have done the following, i put -- i brought the auto industry back and some people disagreed with me, they thought we should let it go bankrupt, is that how you do it? >> i know there are people who crave a real slugfest from the president, but you can't do that in a town hall debate because your first obligation is what? to answer the question from the person in front of you -- >> like clinton did. >> i'm sure they watched the tapes. in the process of doing that, you can sort of answer the question but say, i have to tell you, there's a choice here because mitt romney sees it differently. and start describing romney's plan. he said, you know what? he may not even tell you that because at the last debate he kept saying there is no tax cut -- $5 trillion tax cut plan, but there is. he has to find a way to pivot to that but make it part of addressing the voters' concerns. >> i want to ask you about something i have been thinking about.
i try to understand the president's position in the first debate, and maybe you have this answer. he doesn't want to get in the pit with the other guy. he's president of the united states. it's not just an angry black man and all that stuff i don't quite understand. you're president of the united states. you don't want to get in a mud fight with the other guy because the minute you do that, you lose the advantage of office and he can start throwing mud even further at you. if this president gets down in the ditch tomorrow night, does that give romney more license to get even dirtier? more aggressive? >> i think david corn is right that he's not going to get down in the pits like that, but he can be just as direct and powerful without sort of lowering it to that standard. that's not who he is. i doubt very much that he would do that. first of all, he has a certain sensibility of himself as president, a little bit even of grandeur about it. he doesn't like to be -- to lower it in that sense. i'm not expecting that. i'm just expecting him to be more direct and using the
opportunity of the town hall to also be warmer with the audience and more direct with them. >> would you say he's going to hit the points like 47%? would he use points like vouchers? would he say bankrupt? you know the magic words we talk about. they're our lingo here. do you think he will use those magic bullets in this debate? one last question to you, david maraniss. >> david corn can answer part of that better than i can about 47% certainly but, yes, he has to hit those points. that's what he was watching. when he was watching joe biden, he wasn't watching biden respond with the vigor he was doing but was making those points on how to get to them and that's what he will do, certainly. >> david corn, will he say the 47%, the name of your new ebook? these are bullets that everybody knows you have in your gun. why don't you use them? >> bain, income taxes, a lot of shorthand -- >> will he say why don't you show your taxes? >> that reinforces the narrative that they've tried to create, that he's not empathetic and his policies aren't the best. you call them bullets. i call them shorthand. talking to some of the people in the campaign, they say he won't be shy about pointing out when mitt romney says he's for getting rid of pre-existing --
>> look at what was written in the daily best about what the president needs to be thinking. quote, i hope someone can say to him, mr. president, 70 million or more americans are counting on you, they're voting for you, they're planning on voting for you again, and they want you to fight for them. if you lose, you let them down horribly, and you damage their lives. they're the 47 percenters. they need you. if the other side gets in, you'll be fine, but they're screwed. that's rough language, david, but does the president go in there knowing he's the champion of sometimes the 47%, the people that aren't so rich in this country, that he's carrying the ball for them, and if he fails, it's a psychological defeat for him and the voters going to the voting booth but also if they lose the election they lost, not just you. does he feel that? >> you've got two davids here. >> david maraniss, who wrote the most perfect book on barack obama that knows all these answers. >> so, yes, of course he feels that, but, chris, you have to be realistic. with each of these people, you know, their strengths are also
their weaknesses. certainly president clinton felt that, too, when he let people down. but barack obama, of course, feels that. 's physical >> you've got two davids here. >> david maraniss, who wrote the most perfect book on barack obama that knows all these answers. >> so, yes, of course he feels that, but, chris, you have to be realistic. with each of these people, you know, their strengths are also their weaknesses. certainly president clinton felt that, too, when he let people down. but barack obama, of course, feels that. he doesn't want to let people down, but he is a human being with certain failings, and so, you know, he's going to do the best he can. to carry the burden of 70 million people, he carries the burden of 200-plus million every day. >> so what's the name of your book, david, we don't have it up yet. what is it?
>> "the story." >> i think people forget, too, that barack obama can be really competitive. he's often like -- he likes to have the ball with three seconds left to make the shot. he likes these -- >> if he doesn't win tomorrow night, it's 0-2 in a 3-game match. if he wins tomorrow, you go to the rubber match. thank you, david corn. that's how we think in baseball season still. thank you, david maraniss. up next, vice president joe biden gets the "snl" treatment. wait until you catch this. poor joe. tomorrow we will be live from hofstra university for live editions of "hardball" at 5:00, a different show at 7:00, and i will join rachel maddow. we will be back at 10:30 with lots of reaction. stay up late with us for the biggest fun, stay up at midnight, we have great guests coming on live from the debate site. this is "hardball," the place
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i'm sorry, martha, with all due respect, this is a bunch of malarkey, all right? >> a bunch of malarkey? >> yeah. >> what does that mean? >> it's irish. >> no, no, no. irish is i come over there and smack that dumb look off your face. >> welcome back to "hardball." for anyone watching the vp debate last thursday night, the thought must have crossed your mind, what will "saturday night live" do with this? well "snl" did not disappoint. >> mr. vice president, i know you're under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground, but i think the people would be better served if we didn't keep interrupting each other. >> you don't scare me, shark eyes. all right? >> mr. vice president -- >> look, you think you're tougher than me because you do the p90x workout, because you're
younger than me. let me tell you something, there's gym strong and there's old man strong, okay? you want to know my workout? when the amtrak breaks down on my morning commute, i strip down to my tighty-whities, i push that [ bleep ] all the way to washington. >> weekend update on "snl" had arianna huffington bragging on martha raddatz's style. >> martha raddatz said answer this question and answer it this way. women have to do that. you don't say to your husband, maybe we should go out next weekend. no, you say, hey, we're going to dinner friday night with my sister and her husband, be ready by 7:00, and shave the back of your neck. >> my response to that, no comment. anyway, "meet the press" guest stephen colbert was also at it. he described how romney's surge has rejuvenated his character. >> up until wednesday night i just thought, i don't know what i'm going to do for the next
month. >> because why? >> he was just a walking shambling mound of weakness, you know. even the people who liked him didn't seem to be behind him that strongly. now he's the man. now he's got these long luscious coattails, and everybody is jumping on board. >> well, the country's fate isn't the only thing riding on this campaign. apparently comedians' livelihoods are, too. this weekend i joined bill o'reilly, john king, and jon stewart at the beacon theater for a good cause. it's stewart's annual night of too many stars benefit to support programs for autistic children and teens. >> to show how much these two believe in the cause, bill o'reilly and chris matthews are going to debate the crucial issues of today, and they're going to do it while inhaling helium. so let's see how that goes. it's helium time! >> here are the rules, neither participant shall be permitted
to speak without first filling their lungs with helium. >> are you with us? >> no. >> our annual deficits are now -- you might want a little more. $1 trillion a year. the president says it's time to raise taxes on the rich. >> i think matthews might be hollow. >> governor romney said that would inhibit job creation. >> comedy central advises us we'll get another clip later this week where i do speak under the influence of helium. anyway, think the chipmunks. you do not want to miss that. "night of too many stars" airs on comedy central. up next, which mitt romney will show up on the stage, the severely conservative mitt we've seen in the past year or the moderate who showed up for the first debate? that's ahead. which mitt? you're watching "hardball," the place for politics.
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here's what is happening. the romney campaign says it raised $170 million. the pakistani girl shot by the taliban has been flown to the uk for treatment. the hospital official says she has a chance at making a good recovery. two more drugs from the center of a meningitis outbreak are being investigated. more than 200 people are sick. back to "hardball." i had a different reaction to that first debate than a lot of people did.
i mean, i thought wow. here is old moderate mitt. where you been, boy? i missed you all these last two years. >> welcome back to "hardball." old moderate mitt as bill called him, called him last week. front and center appearing in swing states and on the airwaves. he's even touting his record as a republican governor who worked with democrats in massachusetts. hardly the guy we watched all through the primaries. but just how bipartisan was mitt romney as governor and which romney would show up at 1600 pennsylvania avenue if elected? the severe conservative or the nonthreatening moderate? with me are two guests who know his record out there in massachusetts. shannon o'brien ran against romney in the 2002 massachusetts governor's race and scott helman co-authored the biography called "the real romney."
see that in bookstores everywhere. let me start with shannon. thank you for joining us, dear. here is the question. i hear there's a story, a wonderful anecdote, about the elevator in the state house and mitt's attitude towards it, which is one of those stories i always like because it explains human behavior in a way that voting records don't. explain the elevator and mitt as governor. >> well, the man of the people, the guy who was so bipartisan, actually for the first time in, you know, history that anyone could remember took an elevator that was previously open to the public and kept it just for himself. his own little private bubble going up and down into the governor's office so the public couldn't be on it and no legislators who wanted to buttonhole him to talk to him about legislative priorities could not get on for the four years he served as governor. >> scott, that reminds me so much when the republicans took over the white house after carter was president, they took the white house mess where most of the speechwriters go to eat and divided it into the executive mess, separating them so gingerly from the masses of other people. what is this? is this a republican cultural thing, you have to have
segregated eating facilities for the very elite? >> i think -- >> and elevator facilities? >> i can't speak to the broader dynamic, but it's certainly reflective of romney, who is a control freak. he loves to have people in the places where he wants them. i mean, even more than that, when you were in the state house and you had an event with him, there were pieces of tape on the floor with your name. that's where you were supposed to stand. it was tightly controlled. i think that is very much reflective of the mitt romney i know. >> well, the moderate mitt showed up in denver, of course, for the first presidential debate. that was appropriate. here he was touting his bipartisan bona fides for the national audience who hadn't seen him before. >> i had the great experience, it didn't seem like it at the time, of being elected in a state where my legislature was 87% democrat, and that meant i figured out from day one i had to get along and i had to work across the aisle to get anything done. we drove our schools to be number one in the nation.
we cut taxes 19 times. as president i will sit down on day one, actually the day after i get elected, i will sit down with leaders, democratic leaders, as well as republican leaders and continue -- as we did in my state. we met every monday for a couple hours, talked about the issues and challenges in our state in that case. >> shannon, he's already sat down with grover norquist and signed on the dotted line. he already sat down with the religious right and got his robes on. he already joined that crowd on everything from abortion to same-sex. he joined the neocon crowds. he says he's going to sit down as if he's some virgin politically when he's cut all these deals ahead of time. can you believe he's going to be mr. bipartisan after being such a severe conservative all these months getting the nomination? >> no, and on the campaign trail he said so many conflicting things. you really can't look at his words, but what you can look at is how he governed. i think he probably set a
record. he vetoed 800 either pieces of legislation, twice what his republican predecessor did, bill weld, who let people on that elevator while he was governor for almost eight years. you know, 800 vetoes. these were not just small things. these were things like vetoing the minimum wage, vetoing access to contraceptive rights. sometimes they were petty and partisan. vetoing a special bill that would have helped a disabled cop. vetoing money that would have paid for kosher meals for elderly people in nursing homes. 800 vetoes and i think something like 750 vetoes were overridden by the democratic legislature. that doesn't sound like a guy who is playing ball with people on the other side of the team. >> let me go to scott on the last question. scott, is he or is he not a moderate? >> well, depends on what snapshot you take. like you have been saying, it depends -- he is now apparently. he wasn't before. we hear different things from him. and -- >> what are his core beliefs
besides his religion and his love of his family? what will he fight for? what will he say no to? >> i can't answer that. i think his core belief is pragmatism above all. he looked at that debate in denver and said, this is my biggest audience. he sold a centrist message. i think the president was so surprised by the extent, you know, of kind of romney's shifts there that night, i think that's partly what explain his performance. >> shannon, if you told him two months ago or a year ago, you can be president of the united states but you have to follow the policies of barack obama, you have to lean center left, would he say i'll take the job? >> i think he'd say anything to get the job. but look to see what he's done. the people of massachusetts will be voting in droves for barack obama because they have already seen mitt romney will say anything to get elected, but once he's elected, he doesn't operate based on the promises that he made as a candidate. >> scott, same question to you. would he be any kind of president as long as he gets to
be president? >> yeah, i think that's right. i think he has a very burning ambition, and i think he has -- again, he does what he needs to do to get to the next phase. if getting to the next phase means describing himself as severely conservative, that's what he does. if getting to the next phase now requires being an acceptable centrist alternative, that's who he becomes. he's a consultant looking at any situation. >> a perfect accolade of the ruling class. thank you very much, shannon o'brien. great name, by the way, you're great. and thank you, scott helman, great guy. up next, a democrat who is coming on strong in a senate race in north dakota. heidi heitkamp, there she is, she joins us next. she's come from the back to the front. coming back with "hardball," the place for politics. [ chuckles ] ♪ [ honk! ] ♪ [ honk! ] ♪ [ honk! ] ♪
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[ male announcer ] good choice business pro. good choice. go national. go like a pro. we're back. the senate race in north dakota between democrat heidi heitkamp, the former attorney general and republican congressman rick berg should have been a slam dunk for the republicans. the state is solidly red and mitt romney is expected to win the state by double digits. but the race is much closer. a dead heat at 47% right now. it's a matchup that could determine control of the the u.s. senate. with me now is former attorney general heidi heitkamp. i want to show you an ad now that you've been the victim of. let's show this ad that you've put out. >> when i decided to run for the senate, i knew they'd try and hit me with all sort of stuff. i'm heidi heitkamp.
i could spend the whole campaign answering negative ads that aren't true. the ads are all paid for by a few billionaires and they know if i'm in the senate i won't let them. i'm not willing to trade aware your medicare for more tax breaks for billionaire. i approve this message because i'm just getting warmed up. >> okay, madam attorney general, did you actually hit every one of them or did you edit that picture? i've been in those boxes. did you hit every one that went by you no matter how it was coming at you? >> let me tell you, it was a rocky start but after i got going, i was hitting them all. >> let me ask you about why there's a difference. i know you're a more moderate democrat. let's get down to the basics here. what's the difference between a republican and democrat in north dakota, as you see it, between you and rick berg? what's this campaign about? >> i think it's fundamentally
about whether you support medicare, whether you support social security, and you support that social safety net that's so important to the elderly. so much of what we talk about is privatizing those important programs. i don't agree with that. my opponent voted to privatize both of those programs. what we hear over and over again is the economic problems will go away if we just give another billionaire a tax break. we know that's not true. there's no proof that that's ever been true and so we continue to push back against those ideas. >> let me ask you about the keystone pipeline, because i've always wondered why the president opposed it because it looked like a job creator in your part of the country. you're for it. tell me about the president on that one. it's obviously a jobs issue. >> well, the keystone pipeline is about transporting tar sand oil out of canada down into louisiana.
the environmentalists will tell you it's never been about the pipeline. it's about the tar sand. we absolutely need to move energy in this country. we need to move it in pipes and we need to move it in transmission lines and, unfortunately, we don't have an energy policy that move our energy where it needs to go and that needs to be fixed. and the other piece of this, in the middle of a recession we would put thousands of people back to work and it was just wrong-headed, in my opinion. >> is there such a thing as clean coal? >> you betcha. i'm on the board of directors called dakota gas. we take coal and pulverize it and make natural coal. we compress it, make the co2 and send it to canada for enhanced oil recovery.
it is the largest carbon sequestration project in the country proving we can do it and we quit taking coal off the table. that's what i've been fighting for. let's have a reason discussion. we know we cannot turn the energy economy on a dime. we know we have to be dependent on coal in order to have a reliable and redundant source of energy in this country. so let's do this the right way. there are technologies that we can use that will in fact promote clean coal technology. >> are you going to hold north dakota by conrad all those years, are you going to be able to hold that seat? >> it's sure looking good right now, chris. i tell ya, we started this out saying we're going to win every day but more importantly, we're going to have fun every day. visiting with north dakotans and do something in a state that can
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let me finish tonight with this. multiple choice mitt. that's what they call him up in massachusetts and i don't see any sign that he's changed. talk about potluck, send romney to the white house and you have to ask yourself, what exactly or even generally are you sending there? well, to begin with, someone who signed a grover norquist pledge not to raise taxes and from losing the unfair advantage that they got from w. someone who has gotten well into bed with the neocons, more breakmanship, more foreign policy pushiness. someone who has forged ties with the far right. that means filling the supreme court with judges that will dump roe v. wade. it will mean the end of health care and all of the good things